Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Match Day USOC: On the Road Again

For the first time since the club rebranded, Sporting KC will play two games in a single US Open Cup run on the road. The last time this happened for Kansas City was in the 2009 US Open Cup when the then Wizards also played on the road in Minnesota against the Minnesota Thunder, topping them in penalty kicks 4-2 after a 3-3 tie. KC then went on the road and lost 1-0 to the expansion Seattle Sounders. This year KC heads to play the Houston Dynamo again after defeating a team from Minnesota, this time Minnesota United.

The Dynamo have changed a bit since Kansas City last played them in early May. The big news is that the club agreed to part ways with their coach, Owen Coyle, who is now back in the UK. The move hasn't helped a lot to change their fortunes in the league, while they have only lost once since Wade Barrett replaced Coyle as coach, a 3-2 loss on Sunday to Portland, the Dynamo haven't won a league game either. Since the change, the Dynamo are 0-1-3. They did pick up a win in the US Open Cup, topping San Antonio FC 4-0 in the fourth round.

KC has been in some better form of late, having gone four unbeaten in all competitions, including their 2-1 win over Minnesota in the last round of the US Open Cup. Sporting also earned a 2-2 draw in Montreal in their last outing and looked much better than they have heading into the game. Kansas City will also welcome back their two US internationals as Matt Besler and Graham Zusi will be be available for selection tomorrow according to Peter Vermes. With Besler going 90 minutes in the USA's game against Columbia I think his presence in the game will be minimal at most. Zusi though could contribute more to the team in the game tomorrow having not played in the third place game. Whether he starts though is up to Peter Vermes with his lack of time with the team recently.

Hallisey - Rubio - Peterson
Espinoza - Feilhaber
Medranda - Ellis - Opara - Abdul-Salaam

Number to Remember - 2002 - That's the last time Kansas City has won back to back road games in the US Open Cup. That year Kansas City did it against two minor league opponents, first defeating the Rochester Raging Rhinos 3-2 in extra time before defeating the Milwaukee Rampage 2-0 in Milwaukee. Kansas City ended up losing in their third road game of that year's run, 3-2 in extra time to the eventual winners, the Columbus Crew.

Key Match Up - KC attack vs Houston defense - The Kansas City offense is back to averaging a goal a game after Dom Dwyer's brace against Montreal. That said, Kansas City is still struggling to score goals and to create dangerous chances. They're playing a Houston team though that has allowed 25 goals this season, KC should be able to find some space against the Dynamo, it's going to come down to whether they can exploit it.

PREDICTION - Kansas City has made the Open Cup a priority for themselves since the 2011 season, they've always put out a strong team, especially against MLS opposition. I don't think tomorrow will be too much different, but the question is can the offense get things done against Houston. Sporting's offense still doesn't do a lot for me, many times they look devoid of ideas other than playing the ball wide and crossing to a 5'9" Dwyer in the middle. With the schedule congestion coming should KC advance two more times I don't think Vermes will be too disappointed if KC fall out of the US Open Cup before that stretch in August. Unfortunately for KC I think that comes tomorrow, they just can't score enough goals right now.

SKC - 1 (Dwyer)
HOU - 2 (Bruin, Barnes)

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